One of the best things about Heddon on the Wall is the amazing view you get from many parts of the village.
Just how far can you see from Heddon, in what directions, and can you see the sea?
A recent post in the discussions of my favourite photo site, Geograph, asked the question about how to identify hill tops visible in photos. One of the answers was the panorama mapping tool website, heywhatsthat.
If St Andrew's Church had a steeple that would be the ideal viewing platform as the church stands on a prominent hill in the heart of the village. From ground level, though, it is surrounded by trees and other buildings, and views are limited.
The views to the south-west open out just west of the location of the Northumbria Gliding Club and the prominent little building (5 miles, 201 deg.) on the nearby hill top (National Grid Telemetry Building, Currock Hill). Just west on the same hill is a copse of trees that hides a water tower (5 miles, 204 deg.)
They liked the spot so much that they stayed here again in 1644 on their way to Corbridge, to confront the English cavalry during the Civil War. Perhaps the views were to their liking. Either that or the state of the campsite toilets.
However, slightly further to the east of that ridge, the view opens up again. On bearings between 58 and 67 deg. the panorama indicates we can see over Callerton, Woolsington, Brunswick, Wideopen to the sea just beyond Seaton Sluice, some 25 miles distant.
Further round to the NW, the program suggests that rare glimpses of the installation on Deadwater Fell above Kielder might be possible (36 miles, 301 deg.), although the narrow extent of view must make this almost impossible from ground level.
To the WSW, the northern tip of the Pennine chain at Cold Fell, above Brampton, is visible (33 miles, 258 deg.). Closer to home in the SW, are Kilhope Law (23 miles, 235 deg.) and the distinctive little peak of Bolt's Law, above Rookhope, (17 miles, 220 deg.). The latter is particularly visible, in suitable conditions, from the church porch. The Google map below shows its location with a black cross on the horizon line.
The panorama shows that the Angel of the North (10 miles, 123 deg.) is just hidden from view by the high ground at Wickham. You have to move one or two miles east of our village to see it. A panorama created from its location indicates that Walbottle might be suitable.
The photo at the top of this blog clearly shows one of the two blocks of flats off Waverley Road in Harlow Green (10 miles, 122 deg.), the other in line of sight behind, which is only 440m north of the sculpture and on slightly higher ground.
When Hadrian's Wall was planned it seems to have been as important to maintain good views to the south, even it appears at the expense of views to the north. It has been suggested that this was may have been for signalling back to forts located some distance south, those on the early Stanegate frontier line. Heddon on the Wall was the site of the twelth milecastle and the Roman fort just south of Washingwells Farm on the south-east side of Whickham is thought to have dated, as did Arbeia at South Shields, to this early period (late first century).
Forts were later built on the Wall line itself, including those at Benwell and Rudchester, and lateral signalling may have become more important. The locations of both of these forts would have been intervisible from our viewpoint and almost certainly from a tower on the 12th milecastle.
The furthest east that can be seen along the river is around Dunston Staithes where it turns to the NE into the heart of Newcastle.
The heywhatsthat panorama indicates that higher land near Houghton le Spring (17 miles, 125 deg.) and West Boldon (14 miles, 106 deg.) can be seen to the SE, and almost as far as Sunderland (17 miles, 108 deg.).